Budapest is a vibrant European capital with all kinds of events taking place in the city all year round. Lively music festivals, stimulating art shows, local food fairs, sporting attractions and spectacular national holidays draw crowds of all ages across town. In this continually updated guide, we present the main attractions and calendar highlights of 2018, with links for more information on every event. Whether you’re visiting Budapest later this year or you live in the city and want to mark a date in your diary, our handy guide has you covered.
XII. Budapest International Circus Festival 8-14 January, Capital Circus of Budapest
This week-long extravaganza celebrates the 250th anniversary of contemporary circus art with spectacular stunts performed by intrepid acrobats at the Capital Circus of Budapest. Performers come from around the world, and include the Chinese National Acrobatic Troupe, the Russian clown trio Without Socks, and Agustín Viglione from Argentina. A selection of the best attractions will be on show at the Capital Circus through March 15th.
Budapest Jazz Club 10th anniversary celebration 12-13 January, Budapest Jazz Club
The city’s prominent jazz hotspot turns ten this year and invites aficionados to celebrate this milestone with concerts by some of Hungary’s finest exponents of the genre. The two-day event concludes with impromptu jam sessions played on Saturday and Sunday, while guests can help themselves to a slice of the club’s giant-sized birthday cake.
Zúzmara Winter Half Marathon 14 January, Hungexpo Budapest Fair Center
Hardcore runners battle frosty conditions at this winter marathon, taking place at the sprawling grounds of the Hungexpo Budapest Fair Center and at Kincsem Park horse race track. Participants can choose to tackle a 21-kilometer, a ten-kilometer or a five-kilometer distance during the event, running over asphalt, concrete, grass and dirt paths. Depending on the weather, occasional icy patches might impose unexpected challenges on participants.
Tea Time 14 January, Akvárium Klub
Taking place in Budapest for the first time, this one-day festival is dedicated to top-notch cuppas, introducing the history of tea and many of its fine varieties. Two of the city’s best tea shops, Zhao Zhou and Marumoto, number among the participating teahouses.
Mulled Wine Festival 19-21 January, Allee Shopping Center
Warming mulled wine is the focus of this wintry gastronomic gathering taking place along the promenade near the Allee Shopping Center in Buda. Besides the cinnamon-scented tipples, other toasty alcoholic drinks include grog, punch, hot beer and pálinka specialties. Guests can also sip creamy hot chocolate, tea, coffee and sample select seasonal delicacies.
Budapest International Documentary Festival January 23-28, Cinema City Aréna
Creative documentaries from around the world screen for multiple days in the Hungarian capital, each presenting diverse topics to the audience. During this international competition, every screening culminates in Q&A sessions, providing opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves deeper into the subject matter.
Wedding Exhibition 27-28 January, Papp László Budapest Sports Arena
For its picturesque settings and first-class services, the Hungarian capital is a top-tier European destination for weddings. For those who want to tie the knot here, the annual Wedding Exhibition provides the perfect opportunity to plan the occasion. Creative wedding cakes, breathtaking wedding dresses, party decorations, flowers, alongside trendy make-up and hair-styling, will all be on show at this annual event.
The Grand Chinese New Year Concert 6 February, Palace of Arts
Classical musical traditions of the East meet those of the West at this annual concert show taking place at the Palace of Arts (Müpa), Budapest’s contemporary cultural center. Musicians from China play classical Asian instruments and wear Oriental costumes to deliver an expressive onstage performance.
Finnish Film Days 7-11 February, Toldi Cinema
A selection of fascinating Finnish films show over five days at Budapest’s prominent art-house theater presenting some of the best contemporary movies from this Nordic country. Besides films screenings, workshops, discussions and music events feature in the festival. All of the films screen with original Finnish audio, and English and Hungarian subtitles, unless mentioned otherwise.
Mangalica Festival 9-11 February, Szabadság Square
Every year, a hungry crowd gathers in celebration of a particular Hungarian breed of domestic pig, mangalica. During this event in the city center, urban visitors can savor countryside flavors, including sausage and hot dishes created from mangalica meat. Carnivores can wash down the hefty dishes with Hungarian wines and pálinka spirits. Handcrafted goods and live music make the festival complete.
Ring Gala – Carnival-season Opera Gala 10 February, Erkel Theater
While the Hungarian State Opera is closed for renovation, the city’s annual carnival-season gala moves to the Erkel Theater. During this opulent occasion distinguished by an elite guest list, best-loved international opera music, including popular pieces by Richard Wagner, entertain a discerning audience.
Budapest Boat Show 22-25 February, Hungexpo Budapest Fair Center
River boating is the main theme of this year’s exhibition for sailing enthusiasts. Visitors can check out ships of various sizes suitable for cruising on the Danube, receive information about water-sports activities, including kayak and canoe tours, admire cutting-edge boats, and browse boating gear and accessories.
Ball of Hungarian Wines 24 February, Corinthia Hotel Budapest
An elite crowd of oenophiles gather at the historic Corinthia Hotel Budapest to sample top-notch reds and whites from five of Hungary’s diverse wine regions. The selection includes fruity olaszrizling, spicy kékfrankos, golden Tokaji Aszú and even sparkling champagnes. Creatively served gourmet delicacies pamper taste buds through this exclusive event.
Budapest Photo Festival 28 February-20 April, multiple locations
During this picturesque festival, several of the city’s major cultural institutions host exhibitions displaying Hungarian and international images representing both contemporary and classic photography.
Budapest Cup – International Synchronized Skating Competition 1-4 March, Jégpalota
Attractively dressed teams perform synchronized stunts and imaginative figures around the frosty facility of Budapest’s impressive indoor ice rink, on a quest to earn top ranking at this stunning winter sports attraction.
Travel Exhibition 1-4 March, Hungexpo Budapest Fair Center
Focusing on digital tourism, the 2018 Travel Exhibition draws local and international industry professionals to mingle with globetrotters flipping through hundreds of holiday brochures. The first day of the event is geared towards tourism sector professionals, then the exhibition welcomes anyone with an interest in travel.
Budapest Fish Festival 2-4 March, near Kunsthalle
For fine piscine cuisine, concocted from creatures caught from Hungarian lakes and rivers, head to Heroes’ Square for the 2018 edition of the Budapest Fish Festival. International dishes will also be present in addition to the local dishes.
Budapest Architecture Film Days 8-11 March, Toldi Cinema
Organized annually by the Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Center, this motion-picture event presents and examines the correlation between the movie industry and architecture. Last year, Film Days highlighted the metamorphosis of Budapest – the main theme and agenda of the 2018 festival are yet to be announced.
Public Holiday – observance of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution 15 March, honored nationally
Every year, on the occasion of Hungary’s March 15th national holiday, historic Budapest sites welcome the public to honor the Magyars’ 1848 Revolution against the Austrian Empire. The ceremony includes political speeches, military processions, free tours around the Hungarian Parliament and complimentary entrance to many of the city’s museums.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade 18 March, Szabadság Square
Everyone is free to join the crowd of Irish revelers marching through central Budapest locations wearing green and drinking Guinness to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The joyful jamboree invariably concludes in a pub, where the party continues through the night.
International Macaron Day 20 March, Tesla Budapest
Originating from Paris, the festival dedicated to the tasty French macaron is now celebrated in many major cities around the world, including Budapest. During the day, many of the city’s cake shops offer a wide assortment of the meringue-based confections at focal Akvárium Klub, alongside workshops showcasing macaron-baking sessions.
Budapest Spring Fair 23 March-22 April, Vörösmarty Square
Magyar artisans offer hundreds of handcrafted Hungarian products across several stalls at focal Vörösmarty Square for the Budapest Spring Festival. Besides the traditional and modern folk-art displays, visitors can sample local flavors prepared on-site.
Budapest Spring Festival 30 March-22 April, multiple locations
This month-long cultural extravaganza opens this long-awaited season in Budapest. During the Budapest Spring Festival, more than 100 events await visitors across 40 of the city’s key cultural establishments with orchestra concerts, jazz performances, theater shows, exhibitions, family-friendly activities and more. The 2018 edition of the event highlights a duo of historic composers, Franz Liszt and Leonard Bernstein.
Easter festivities 1 April, multiple locations
Many events celebrate Easter tradition in Budapest. On central Vörösmarty Square, the Budapest Spring Fair sheds light onto holiday customs with egg-painting workshops and handcrafted merchandise. You can also head out to Szentendre, 30 kilometers north of Budapest, to visit the annual Easter Festival at the Skanzen open-air ethnographic museum, featuring heritage activities and traditional costumes.
Titanic International Film Festival 4-13 April, multiple locations
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Titanic International Film Festival moves into the cinemas of Budapest to present select motion pictures that are not distributed in Hungary or will only be available in the country after a fair while from now. The films screen with original audio and no subtitles, while simultaneous Hungarian translation is usually available on headphones.
VinCE Budapest Wine Show 5-7 April, Várkert Bazaar
Between 5th and 7th April, Budapest’s tastefully renovated Castle Garden Bazaar is the place to be for oenophiles. Prime tipples from Hungary and Central Europe take center stage, welcoming wine lovers and connoisseurs with aromatic reds, whites and rosés, alongside top-quality spirits and food.
BANFF Mountain Film Festival 11-13 April, Corvin Cinema
Some of the best adrenaline-fueled adventures play onscreen during the Budapest leg of the annual BANFF Mountain Film Festival. The show features documentaries of daredevils conquering the world’s highest rock formations, fast-flowing rivers and snow-capped mountains.
Hungarian Dance House Festival and Fair 13-15 April, Papp László Budapest Sportaréna
Musicians and dancers from the Carpathian Basin perform onstage at one of Hungary’s biggest dance house festivals, featuring diverse acts. Visitors can also take part in workshops and browse the traditional folk-art merchandise.
33rd Telekom Vivicitta Spring Half Marathon 14-15 April, Margaret Island
Margaret Island is the starting line for this two-day jogging event, calling runners to challenge themselves over diverse distances, including the ten-kilometer Vivicittà and the 21-kilometer half marathon, both taking place on the Sunday. On the Saturday, you can sign up to join less onerous races.
Budapest Art Week 17-22 April, multiple locations
A special wristband grants access to many of the city’s museums and art galleries, featuring almost 100 exhibitions and cool cultural events for Budapest Art Week. Meet the artists, join gallery tours and see newly installed displays over this enlightening series spanning six days.
International Book Festival Budapest 19-22 April, Millenáris Park
Every April, renowned writers from around the world gather at the Millenáris Park in Buda to celebrate literature, and present bestsellers and recently published editions to book lovers. Roundtable discussions, concerts and book-signing sessions accompany the event. Prominent German writer Daniel Kehlmann appears as guest of honor at the 2018 festival.
Hyperspace Electronic Music Festival 21 April, Hungexpo Budapest Fair Center
For this one night, the Hungexpo site is transformed into a giant club, where globally renowned DJs spin dance tunes and revelers let loose on the dance floor amid surreal settings. This year’s lineup will be announced closer to the date.
I Bike Budapest, 22 April, multiple locations
Hop on a bicycle and catch up with a massive crowd pedaling through the city center to conquer major roads that would otherwise be filled with cars, all on a quest to promote cycling in the city. The popular mass-cycling event started in Budapest in 2004 and in 2017, some 10,000 people turned up to zoom along the empty city streets on two wheels, drawing silent attention to the continuing need to create better bike lanes in town.
Food Truck Show Budapest 4-6 May, Kincsem Park
Budapest’s food trucks are on a roll and this alfresco attraction gathers the best of them at the Kincsem Park horse racetrack. Come here to feast on juicy burgers, succulent sausages, zesty barbecue treats and all kinds of innovative handheld delights.
Budapest100 5-6 May multiple locations
Budapest’s historic buildings are open for a weekend to anyone who would like to take a tour inside for a closer view of their distinctive architecture and design. This year, Budapest100 unveils lesser-known details of constructions found on and around the city’s squares.
Night of Art Cinemas 11 May, multiple locations
You just need to secure one wristband to gain access to several Budapest art cinemas for this one night, screening comedy, drama and sci-fi films, animation and much more until sunrise. Many of the movies play in original language with Hungarian or English subtitles. More information about this year’s event and agenda will appear closer to the date.
Rosalia – Rosé and Champagne Festival 11-13 May, Városliget (City Park)
Linger around the sprawling City Park and sip on refreshing rosé wines, sparkling tipples and fizzy champagnes during the annual Rosalia Festival. Diverse street-food treats accompany the intoxicating drinks and live tunes are played to jazz up the scene.
Mayday of Museums Festival 13 May, Hungarian National Museum
Intriguing open-air displays are set up across the Hungarian National Museum garden, highlighting the work of major Budapest exhibition spaces. Concerts and children’s activities make this cultural event ideal for family visits.
Gourmet Festival 17-20 May, Millenáris Park
Hungary’s top-tier restaurants set up stalls at Buda’s Millenáris Park to treat epicureans to creatively served dishes, fine desserts, aromatic wines and coffee specialties. Attending this prominent gastronomy festival feels like being invited to a deluxe picnic.
Total Dance Festival Cabrio 18 May, Budapest Park
Fun Factory, Ice MC, Brooklyn Bounce, Dune and DJ Sash are among the most prominent acts headlining the 2018 Total Dance Festival, a yearly extravaganza staging legendary formations from the 1980s and ’90s to perform backdropped by impressive visuals.
Brain Bar Budapest 1-2 June, Corvinus University of Budapest
Examining the boundaries between man and machine through innovative visions of world-renowned masterminds, this future-focused event once again features an extraordinary lineup of speakers. The spectacle welcomes Production Designer of the Dark Night Trilogy Nathan Crowley, influential politician Margrethe Vestager, founder of social network liberty.me, Jeffrey Tucker, and Sophia, a humanoid robot and the world’s first android citizen.
Children’s Island 2-24 June, Óbuda Island
Budapest’s Óbuda Island turns into a grand open-air playground for kids during weekends from June 2nd-24th. Children’s attractions include a mini-motorcycle course, trampolines, video games, a climbing wall, sports activities and playful music performances.
Danube Carnival 8-17 June, multiple locations
This annual multicultural festival presents folk, symphonic and World Music shows, alongside contemporary and traditional dance performances. Expect 1,000 or so performers from Hungary and beyond, creating a vibrant atmosphere.
Budapest Summer Festival 9 June-31 August, multiple locations
From a Richard Strauss opera to The Great Gatsby ballet show and a Jeff Mills performance, diverse live acts brighten the summer days around the city’s parks, including Margaret Island and Városmajor.
Kolorádó Festival 13-16 June, Adyliget, Nagykovácsi
A forested area surrounding Budapest hosts a multi-day open-air jamboree for the Kolorádó Festival, an up-and-coming musical extravaganza with a strong lineup of local and international acts. Come here to chill by day, get your groove on to pulsating dance tunes by night, before retreating to your tent under open starry skies – and repeat.
Night of the Museums 23 June, multiple locations
Most of Budapest’s exhibition venues can be visited until late at night by anyone holding the all-inclusive wristband. Besides perusing permanent and temporary museum displays, culture aficionados can join the special cultural activities set up for the occasion across participating locations.
Red Bull Air Race 23-24 June, over the Danube in downtown Budapest
Budapest is the mid-season stop in the 2018 World Championship calendar for the Red Bull Air Race. A massive crowd of spectators line the banks of the Danube to watch the world’s best pilots in cutting-edge racing planes perform spine-chilling stunts in the air, even manoeuvring under the iconic Chain Bridge.
Vajdahunyad Castle Summer Music Festival 2 July-2 August, Vajdahunyad Castle
The fairy tale castle in City Park serves as an enchanting backdrop for this month-long music festival, presenting symphonic concerts, Gypsy music, jazz performance and much more.
Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix 26-29 July, Hungaroring
The world’s top drivers zoom into Hungary for one of the greatest motor-sports events on Earth, held every summer at the Hungaroring racetrack. Since 1986, this rip-roaring race has been a unique destination of the global F1 circus, with its twisting course producing infamously unpredictable results. The adrenaline-fueled extravaganza concludes with lavish after-parties, rocking Budapest’s prominent hangouts.
Sziget Festival 8-15 August, Óbuda Island
One of Europe’s biggest summer extravaganzas draws thousands of revelers to the Hungarian capital to spread good vibes accompanied by a cornucopia of live music and any number of attractions alongside, all taking place on an island north of Budapest. The week-long fun takes in raucous rock, cultural performance and nonstop entertainment – an experience you will never forget.
Festival of Folk Arts 17-20 August, Buda Castle
Numerous wooden stalls offer Hungarian handicrafts around cobblestoned Buda Castle at the country’s most scenic festival of folk arts. Come here to find unique fashion accessories, wooden toys, ornate pottery, fine fabrics and handcrafted furniture. Visitors can also learn how some of this local merchandise is made.
Public Holiday – observance of Saint Stephen’s Day and the Foundation of Hungary 20 August, honored nationally
Colorful fireworks create a cascade of sparkle above the Danube as Hungary honors its founding king St. Stephen with a spectacular national holiday. In Budapest, military processions, open-air concerts, handicraft fairs, the cutting ceremony of Hungary’s birthday cake and free museum entry accompany the fiesta.
Jewish Cultural Festival 26 August-2 September, multiple locations
Concerts, theatre shows, and cabaret performances highlight Jewish culture and traditions at this annual festival. Events organized by and for Budapest’s Jewish community take place across prominent locations, including the impressive Dohány Street Synagogue.
Budapest Short International Film Festival 28 August-2 September, multiple locations
Designed to introduce talented young filmmakers working in the audiovisual field in Eastern and Central Europe, the annual BuSho Festival shows select short movies in original language with English subtitles. In addition to film screenings, thematic workshops engage festival guests.
Budapest Wine Festival 6-9 September, Buda Castle
Tour Hungary’s wine regions without leaving the city limits of Budapest, sampling excellent varieties from an impressive assortment of labels at the city’s most scenic wine festival at Buda Castle. Local culinary treats served on-site pair well with intoxicating reds, whites and rosés.
33rd Wizz Air Budapest Half Marathon 9 September, Városliget (City Park)
Central Budapest lanes are cleared of car traffic to give way to thousands of athletes running along Andrássy Avenue, the Chain Bridge and the Danube bank during the biggest half marathon event in Central Europe.
National Gallop 14-16 September, Heroes’ Square
Hungary’s young jockeys gallop around Heroes’ Square, transformed into a one-of-a-kind racecourse for the weekend. Horses and riders zoom around the iconic Budapest monument to compete for the grand prize and national glory.
Sweet Days Chocolate and Sweets Festival 14-16 September, Szent István Square
Indulge in creamy chocolates, scrumptious cakes and refreshing ice creams at this high-carb outdoor gathering. Music, food and wine balance out the sugary treats.
Oktoberfest Budapest 27-30 September, Kincsem Park
The world’s biggest beer festival comes to Budapest, where ale aficionados can get a taste of the atmosphere of Bavaria’s alcohol-fueled fiesta.
Budapest Design Week 5-19 October, multiple locations
Budapest Design Week transforms Hungary’s capital into a massive showcase for modern fashion, furniture and art with numerous venues hosting a mix of events, workshops, exhibitions and creative gatherings.
CAFe Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival 5-21 October, multiple locations
From classical to pop music, and from opera to contemporary-circus shows, invigorating art performances pop up at various locations citywide. In addition to the onstage attractions, visual art exhibitions complete the agenda.
33rd Spar Budapest Marathon 6-7 October, Heroes’ Square
Runners pass the city’s iconic sites, including Heroes’ Square and Andrássy Avenue on their way to the finish line during this two-day athletic event, distances ranging from 400 meters to 42.195 kilometers.
Art Market Budapest 11-14 October, Millenáris Cultural Center
Set up across a maze of viewing space, a vast collection of contemporary paintings, sculptures, installations and photos entices art aficionados to browse, buy or just view pieces displayed by prominent local and international galleries.
Pig Slaughter and Sausage Festival 12-14 October, Hungarian Railway History Park
This peculiar Hungarian countryside tradition encourages a carnivorous urban crowd make a pilgrimage to District XIV. While observing the tradition of pig-slaughtering, festival visitors can sample many varieties of pork-based dishes, including local paprika-spiced sausage and paper-thin slices of smoked ham. A shot (or more) of pálinka should help digest hefty meals.
Chimney Cake Festival 12-14 October, Gesztenyés-kert
While the Hungarian kürtőskalács (chimney cake) has been enjoying a creative renaissance in recent years, and this annual fair aims to bring traditional versions back into the limelight. The Chimney Cake Festival presents and preserves age-old baking and preparation methods of this cylindrical treat. Those who head here can look forward to enjoying the real deal.
Public Holiday – observance of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 23 October, honored nationally
Every October 23rd, historic Budapest sites welcome the public with events to honor the heroic insurrection by Hungarians against the oppressive Soviet regime in 1956. From a solemn flag-raising ceremony on Kossuth Square to free tours around Parliament, as well as complimentary entry to museums, diverse attractions evoke Hungarian history.
Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival 6-11 November, multiple locations
Selective documentaries highlight war crimes, political oppression, press freedom, racism and sexual diversity alongside other human-right issues at this thought-provoking film event. The best example in the genre is presented with an award. Verzio is a bilingual event with Hungarian and English translations.
St. Martin’s Day Festival 11 November, countrywide
Every November 11th, Hungarians commemorate St. Martin of Tours, one of the country’s patron saints. Celebrations include sampling gourmet goose dishes, and sipping new wine at festivals and restaurants nationwide. Around Budapest, holiday gatherings take place at several locations: the Gellért Hotel hosts a grand indoor wine festival, while diverse restaurants offer special meals during November to showcase goose delicacies.
Budapest Jewish Film Festival 29 November-2 December, multiple locations
A selection of recent motion pictures from around the world screens across multiple Budapest art-house cinemas to spotlight contemporary Jewish culture and heritage.
Santa Claus Day 6 December, countrywide
On December 6th, Santa Claus pays an early visit to Budapest to deliver presents to Hungarian kids, who shine their boots the night before and place one on the windowsill in the hope that they’ll awaken to find it filled with candy and chocolates courtesy of Mikulás. Several Budapest events accompany Santa Claus Day, and even the Finnish Joulupukki pops into the city on his way from Lapland.
Christmas markets throughout December, multiple dates and locations
As the merriest season of the year approaches, Budapest squares dress up in festive lights and vendors set up stalls to offer Hungarian handmade items, warm wintertime drinks and local dishes at the city’s Yuletide bazaars. Go to see Budapest’s biggest holiday-season fair at Vörösmarty Square or watch special light shows projected onto the façade of St. Stephen’s Basilica at the Advent Feast on Szent István Square.
Santa Speedo Run date to be announced, Gozsdu Courtyard
Every December, an intrepid team of underdressed Santas take the streets to run along central lanes and roads wearing a swimsuit, sneakers, a Santa hat and little else. This surreal jogging usually ends at Széchenyi Bath, where runners melt away their goose bumps. Participation is subject to an entry fee, but all revenues benefit Hungarian charities and children in need.